Late last week I was the guest speaker at a local art guild meeting. Twenty-five, over-fifty artists were in attendance. To say that I felt intimidated speaking before that many years of artistic experience is an understatement, but somewhere in life I learned that to affect change in my life, I had to accept the risk of making a fool of myself. My biggest fear in life is falling into the quagmire of “if I always do what I’ve always done, I’ll always get what I’ve always got.” To me, life is too short to accept the status quo.
So, opening myself up to the potential criticism of twenty-five previously unknown peers was my leap of faith for the month. I spoke about what I do and how I started doing it, about the Stone Mountain Art Incubator program (SMart, Inc.) and what I learned from it, about lessons learned from entering juried and non-juried shows, and about becoming a business. I passed around my “portfolio,” a three-ring binder filled with before and after photos of my collages. I even shared a technology tip: the ap called “CopyIt” which allows me to pull up a digital photo, cover it with grid lines, and display it on my iPad for reference. I surprised myself with how much I appear to know now. As a result of taking that risk, several people from the meeting showed up in our gallery on Saturday to see what we have, where we are, and what we do. One of the group members is very interested in renting our empty studio space as a result, too.
I know that I have to keep trying new marketing approaches to generate more interest in my work, but the real trick is figuring out what works for me. Public speaking I can handle. Entering exhibitions and showing my artwork I can do. Blogging . . . well, I guess I’m doing okay with that. Sharing what I’ve learned and mentoring others I would attempt. Promoting myself through press releases . . . I’m willing to try that someday. But going into production mode and making twenty look-alike items, or doing only custom artwork, or teaching classes ad nauseam, or trying to get published in an art journal . . . well, I’ll have to pass on those methods of attracting attention.
One of our team of Stone Mountain Village Artists summarizes the way I work like this: “You’re just in it for the bliss . . . .” Yeah, I guess I am.
PS: Last week I made strip abstracts of actual photographs glued onto 1” deep wooden panels. I chose as my first experiment four photos of cymbidiums that grow profusely in pots in my good friend’s backyard micro-climate in Torrance (Southern California).